While overall ratings for China are mostly positive, that is not the case on the issue of individual liberty. Across 39 countries, a median of 45% say the Chinese government does not respect the personal freedoms of its people, while only 34% say that it does.
Publics in the EU and North America are the most likely to say that China does not respect the rights of its people. Around eight-in-ten or more among the eight countries surveyed in these regions say that China does not respect the freedoms of its people, including 93% in France, 92% in Germany, 88% in Spain, 86% in Canada and 84% in the U.S. No more than 11% in these places say that China respects individual liberty.
In Asia, publics are very divided on this issue. On the one hand, eight-in-ten or more in Japan (93%), Australia (81%) and South Korea (81%) say that China does not respect the rights of its people. On the other, six-in-ten or more in Pakistan (65%), Indonesia (60%) and Malaysia (60%) say the Chinese government does respect personal freedoms. Indians and Filipinos are split.
Middle Eastern publics are also divided on this issue. Nearly two-thirds in Israel (64%) and 58% in Turkey say Beijing ignores the human rights of its people. But around two-thirds in Lebanon (67%) and the Palestinian territories (66%) say China does respect personal freedoms. Israeli Arabs (54%) are much more supportive of China’s rights record than are Israeli Jews (20%).
Lebanese Shia Muslims (86%) and Christians (64%) are more likely than Sunni Muslims (49%) to give Beijing a positive rating on this question.
Russians also believe that China respects the rights of its people (52%), while only 29% of Ukrainians agree.
People in Africa are the most positive about China’s human rights record. A median of 60% across the nine African countries surveyed say the Chinese government respects personal freedoms. This sentiment is highest in Ghana (69%), Kenya (66%) and Ethiopia (64%). However, only 40% in South Africa say the same.
While not drastically changed since 2014, a year which saw a very public demonstration in Hong Kong regarding democratic rights for the Special Administrative Region, the belief that the Chinese government does not respect the human rights of its people is up across the 35 countries surveyed in both years.
Today, a median of 45% think the government of China does not respect the personal freedoms of its people, up from 40% in 2014. There were significant increases in the view that China does not respect individual rights in 14 of the countries surveyed in both years.
(Source: PEW Survey)